As the second-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, Maui is home to less than 150,000 people. It makes up for its sparse population by drawing more than 2.4 million visitors per year, all of whom are drawn to its sparkling beaches, warm water, and lush tropical habitats.
Polynesian and modern American lifestyles blend together in the Valley Isle. Maui’s legendary greenery, sprouting from fertile lava soil, has made it a popular place for hikes and scenic drives. Of course, its fascinating culture and history are also huge draws. Once you’ve arrived on the island, your Maui tour should kick off with the capital city, Wailuku, which is full of museums, pubs, and places to explore.
Maui is not a large island, and in theory it’s easy to see all of it—after all, you can drive from one end to the other in less than three hours. Instead of taking the shortcut, though, do some Maui sightseeing around the perimeter. Rent a car and pull onto the Hana Highway, where you can view some of Hana’s beautiful, secluded spaces, like the Garden of Eden Arboretum. You can enjoy its stunning views of the ocean and bamboo forest for hours.
Once you reach the other side of Hana, you’ll find Haleakala National Park, which is set on a dormant volcano. If you go hiking there in the morning, you’ll see a brilliant sunrise and truly understand why Haleakala means “the house of the sun.”
But who are we kidding? You’re here for the beaches—and there are 80 of them. Whether you want to go snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Molokini Island Preserve or commune with the turtles at Maluaka Beach, you’ll find the perfect watery habitat on Maui. If you want to learn how to surf, Kihe is the ideal place; with its gentle waves and affordable lodgings, you’ll be getting barreled in no time.